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UN 'very disappointed' with Appeal Court's verdict on Thai editor Somyot case

23 September 2014
 
We are very disappointed by the decision of an appellate court in Thailand affirming the conviction and sentencing of the editor and activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk in Thailand on 19 September. Mr. Somyot, the editor of Voice of Thaksin magazine, was convicted under the lèse majesté law after the magazine published two articles deemed offensive to the King. In 2013, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and the sentence was upheld on Friday. The authorities reportedly did not inform Mr. Somyot’s lawyer or his family of the date of the appeal verdict, thereby preventing them from attending the court.
 
In 2013, the High Commissioner publicly expressed deep concerns about Mr.Somyot’s conviction and extremely harsh sentencing, saying his case represented a setback for the protection and promotion of human rights in Thailand. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has concluded that Somyot’s detention is arbitrary and called on the Government of Thailand torelease him.
 
Since the coup d’état on 22 May, according to information available to us, the number of people in custody under the lèse majesté law has risen from 6 to 22, with another eight people facing charges but not currently in custody. We reiterate our call to the military government to restore space for free expression and public dialogue, in line with Thailand’s international human rights obligations.